Your credit score can have a significant impact on both your personal and professional lives. Personally, your score can impact the availability of and interest rates for mortgages, car loans, and credit cards. Professionally, a bad credit score will hurt your chances of securing certain jobs and obtaining financing for small business endeavors.
Your credit score is a composite of several factors: payment history, credit usage, credit age, types of credit, and credit inquiries. Some of these areas can be impacted more quickly than others.
If you were recently denied credit or told you do not qualify for low interest rates due to bad credit, here are our top tips for raising your score:
- Know where you are starting: You have to take a hard look at your credit report and understand the problems.
- Dispute any mistakes: Your report could include accounts that are not yours or reflect incorrect payment history. Each incorrect item can be disputed through the agency and/or lender.
- Pay off collections: If you have accounts that have gone to a collection agency then it is critical to deal with these first. Work with the original lender to arrange a payment schedule and get your account in good standing.
- Get current on payments: If you are more than three months overdue, a lender may be reporting that activity. Again, to protect your credit you will want to start making payments immediately in order to bring your account in good standing.
- Payment history: If you have had a problem with paying your bills on time, look to improve in these areas.
- Lower your debt ratio: Maxing out your credit cards can hurt your credit score. Paying down your balances on credit cards can make a significant, and rather quick, impact in this area.
- Open new lines of credit or keep paid off credit cards open: You want lots of available credit. For instance, if you have $8,000 of outstanding debt on a credit card, it is better to have a $20,000 limit than $10,000 one. Sometimes applying for an additional credit card can help, but only if you have the discipline not to use it.
- Vary your types of credit: Do you have all credit cards? It is better to have a variety of credit accounts open which can include a school loan, car loan, home equity loan of credit (HELOC), and a mortgage. If you are being denied credit, this is a hard one to change in the short term.
- Extend the age of your credit: The length of time your accounts have been open is a factor in your credit score. This is often hard for younger people to conquer and takes a longer time to make a significant impact.
- Limit credit inquiries: Each time you apply for any type of credit that requires a credit check that action is recorded. Too many inquiries and it will appear as if you are trying to obtain too much credit. If you have problems with your credit report, stop applying – those denials can lower your score.
We can go through your current financial situation with you and look for ways to pay off debt and improve your credit rating. This can give your personal and professional life a boost and set you down a more secure path.